What do Lutheran School teachers do with their last days of summer vacation? Go to school and learn, of course! Over fifty Science teachers from several schools in The Lutheran Schools Partnership (TLSP) gathered at Holy Cross Lutheran School on July 31 and August 1 to learn more about the implementation of materials from ISI, the Indiana Science Initiative.
ISI is the signature program of I-STEM, or Indiana Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Along with the Indiana Department of Education, Eli Lilly and Company, and the Lilly Foundation, I-STEM is working to systematically reform K-8 science education in Indiana using research-based science curricular materials that are implemented with literacy-enriched strategies through ISI. Teachers from across the state who are experienced in teaching ISI came to TLSP’s host school, Holy Cross, to explain the program, demonstrate lessons, and give TLSP teachers the same hands-on experiences their students will have in the classroom.Stephen Bornheimer, Science teacher at Emmanuel-St. Michael Lutheran School says, “For over five decades research has continually shown that investigation based science instruction is the best way for students to truly learn science. However, the difficulty has always been storage, continued funding for supplies, and managing the many materials that it takes to teach investigation and hands on curriculums. Inevitably what has happened even a couple of years into any kit program is that it is just too overwhelming to manage. I-STEM is all about taking care of teachers so that they can facilitate and teach great science! Purdue University staff in conjunction with the Indiana Science Initiative, manage, replenish and store the kits. What’s more, they have had experts in science education evaluate the best investigation based science kit curriculums, and have chosen only the very best for use in our classrooms. I-STEM is not about the money, or even any one curriculum company. It is about delivering the best science to teachers and taking care of the nuts and bolts so that teachers can do what they do best, teach!”Laura Renzelmann, 4th grade teacher at Central Lutheran School adds, “After seeing this program in action at another school, I was sold on the quality of this curriculum. The students were using Science vocabulary in their group discussions, and using it correctly! They were thinking like scientists, and it was awesome. This curriculum is going to be so much more hands-on, which is exactly what Science should be. I mean, how many Space Shuttles were built by people reading a passage and answering questions? Science is a subject you have to do and experience, and I think ISTEM will give our kids more of that than we've ever had before!”With teachers trained and enthusiastic about what they are teaching, this is sure to be an exciting year for Science education in our Lutheran Schools!